Karathe Kismuri (South Indian Bitter Gourd Coconut Curry)

 


Karathe Kismuri, a typical mouth-watering and favorite side dish of the Hindu Konkani community from Mangalore in south India. It is made with deep fried karela or bitter gourd pieces in a coconut and aromatic coriander seed based curry tempered with roasted garlic. Paired with hot steaming rice and some dal, it is a perfect comforting meal for us!


Bitter gourd/bitter melon/bitter squash/karela (in Hindi) or “karathe” as we call it in Konkani, is not a much favored vegetable because of its bitter taste. But being a powerhouse of nutrients and super healthy (reverses diabetes, reduces bad cholesterol, is used to treat cancer, high in vitamin C, aids in digestion etc.), it has been a regular in our kitchen.

Although I love the bitter taste of this amazing vegetable, sometimes, to please the palate of those in our family who do not, we sprinkle some salt over chopped bitter gourds to draw out the water, which is then discarded (not one to miss the health factor, I love to mix it in making my chapatti dough or add it in soups and if I am making a gravy or curry, just add this in place of some of the water and bingo!! you still have not wasted its nutrients!)

This particular dry curry has a coconut base (well, I am from a coastal town, so coconut is a must in most of my dishes!) with a whiff of coriander spice in the masala.  The base is just a typical Konkani coconut curry; freshly grated coconut (or frozen too) is made into a coarse paste with tamarind and coriander seeds with some dry red chilies.

Bitter gourds are chopped into small cubes (after removing all the hard seeds inside, if any), sprinkled with salt and kept aside for a few minutes. This then is squeezed well to remove all the moisture and then deep fried to a crispy brown texture. Some people prefer shallow frying but I love my karelas in this dish this way; crispy!

After a tempering of crushed garlic (with its skin still on to get the full flavor of it), fried bitter gourds are cooked with the coconut paste until almost dry. Once all the moisture is gone, it is ready to be served.

 


We love to enjoy karathe kismuri with hot steaming rice and some Konkani style dal like dalithoy with maybe a fresh vegetable stir fry on the side! So, head on to the grocery store, get some fresh green bitter gourds and try my way of enjoying this wonderful vegetable!

Another delicacy you can try is pickled bitter gourd, the south Indian way; Karathe Nonche.

Or my husband’s most favorite, fried karelas; roundels of bitter gourd are coated with salt, rice flour, red chilli powder/cayenne powder and hing/asafetida and deep fried to a crispy golden brown color; yumm!

For more similar south Indian dishes, do check out:

Pulikoddel/Ashgourd Coconut Curry

Mooga Ghashi/Mung Bean Sprouts Coconut Masala

Vaali Ambat/Malabar Spinach Coconut Curry

Step-by-step method to make Karathe Kismuri:

To make fried bitter gourd:

Wash and cut 2 bitter gourds into small cubes. Add salt and keep aside for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, squeeze out the water and deep fry the karela pieces in hot oil until crispy and brown. Keep aside.

To make the coconut masala:

Blend coconut with 8 to 10 red dry chillies, 1 small ball of tamarind and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds to a coarse paste.

In a kadai, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add 4 to 6 crushed garlic (crushed with skin) and sauté until light brown.

Add the coconut paste along with some water and salt (remember, the fried karela has some salt) and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. At this stage, you can add the water squeezed out of the salted bitter gourds and then cook; this ensures none of the nutrients of this amazing vegetable are wasted!

Add the fried karela pieces, mix well, adjust the salt and cook on medium low until all the moisture is gone and the curry is fairly dry, stirring in between.

Serve spicy lip-smacking Karathe Kismuri with rice and dalithoy (south Indian dal). Leftovers stay in the fridge for at least a month (if there are any :D).

Enjoy!

 


Kaaretha Kismuri (South Indian Bitter Gourd Coconut Curry)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Kaaretha Kismuri (South Indian Bitter Gourd Coconut Curry)

Spicy, mouth-watering bitter gourd dry curry in an aromatic coconut masala; perfect with rice and dal for a simple comforting meal!

Ingredients

    For the bitter gourd crisps:
  • 2 bitter gourds/karela/kaarathe
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying
  • For the coconut masala:
  • ½ cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 marble-sized tamarind (or ½ tsp tamarind paste)
  • 6 to 10 dry red chillies (depending upon how spicy you want)
  • Salt to taste
  • For tempering:
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, slightly crushed

Instructions

    To make the fried bitter gourds:
  1. Wash and cut 2 karelas into small cubes. Add salt and keep aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, squeeze out the water and deep fry the karela pieces in hot oil until crispy and brown. Keep aside.
  3. To make the coconut masala:
  4. Blend coconut with 8 to 10 red dry chillies, 1 small ball of tamarind and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds to a coarse paste.
  5. In a kadai, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add 4 to 6 crushed garlic (crushed with skin) and sauté until light brown. Add the coconut paste along with some water and salt (remember, the fried karela has some salt) and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the fried karela pieces, mix well, adjust the salt and cook on medium low until all the moisture is gone and the curry is fairly dry, stirring in between.
  7. Lip smacking kaaretha kismuri goes well with rice and dalithoy. Leftovers stay in the fridge for at least a month (if there are any ?).

Notes

The same recipe can be used to make kismuri with yam or sooran.

Once fried well and with almost no moisture, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Adjust spices according to personal preference.

For a quick variation, just mix the fried bitter gourd with some chopped onions, green chillies and freshly grated coconut and is also called kaarathe kismuri!

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